What are the steps for filing for custody?
The specific steps for filing for custody vary, depending on your particular situation.
Usually, if parents are going through a divorce, child custody will be decided during the divorce.
If the parents were never married or aren’t getting a divorce, either parent can petition (ask) the court for custody. To file for custody, you will need to draft (write) paperwork asking the court for custody. You will then need to file (turn in) that paperwork to the court, along with money to pay a filing fee. The filing fee may vary by county. Once you have turned in your paperwork and your filing fee, you may be assigned a date to:
- return to court for a hearing in front of a judge,
- go to mediation with the other parent (What is mediation?), or
- take other steps in your custody case.
Custody matters are often complicated. If you can get a lawyer to draft the paperwork for you, it might make the process significantly easier for you. You will find a list of legal resources on our AR Finding a Lawyer page.